7 Social Media Rules You Seriously Must Follow

by Brianna Wiest

Our lives are rapidly being digitized one swipe at a time. We date online, we document our lives online, we construct our personas in pixels. It's the age we live in, and there are so many countless ways it's advanced us as a society, by optimizing communication and learning and connection.

But as with all human affairs, there are still ways in which we're falling a bit short. I'm not trying to instruct on what's "right" or "wrong" here (I think those ideas are subjective regardless) but I am saying that there are a few standards of decency we should all aim to abide by. Here, the 7 social media etiquette rules everyone should follow:

If you wouldn't want to see it, don't post it

Respect other people, and yourself, by taking a moment to consider what most irks you on your feeds and timelines. If you think it's rude for people to share their unsolicited opinions, do everyone a favor and withhold your own.

Don't air other people's dirty laundry, even if you're involved with it

Yeah, it's your right to tell your story, but it's not your right to tell someone else's, no matter how justified you may feel in doing so. And that's not because I said so, and it's not because some counsel on Moral and Ethical Facebook Standards agrees. It's really just because you wouldn't want it done to you.

Speaking about someone vaguely is just as bad as anything else

Subtweeting is the worst kind of 'dis, and posting melodramatic lyrics as means of communicating to your loyal followers and friends that you're unhappy about your breakup is confusing and unnecessary. If you can't say it without having to skew details for the sake of "privacy," and it has to do with your personal life, it probably doesn't belong on social media in the first place.

If you can say it over a text, it probably belongs in a text

Don't be that person who posts "happy birthday" collages for someone who isn't even on Facebook. Just... don't be that person.

Phones down at dinner. Always.

Respect the people around you enough to not have your eyes on your phone while they're trying to have a conversation with you, and respect yourself enough to actually take a moment to enjoy your meal, not just all the potential Insta-likes it could get you.

If someone doesn't want to have their picture posted somewhere (or taken, for that matter), respect their wishes

And along those lines, don't post images of strangers (especially to make fun of them) or anything too personal or revealing of children who cannot possibly consent. They'll thank you in 20 years. Oh, speaking of:

Only post things you're cool with having to explain to your kids in 20 years

What we know: The internet immortalizes everything. What we don't know: how humiliated we'll be by our decisions when we're all grown up. What we don't realize: We're the first generation to actually have live-action, photographic, digital, semi-public evidence of our teen and 20-something thoughts and opinions and outfit choices. Think twice about what you make permanent. You'll thank yourself later.

Images: Linh Nguyen/Flickr; Giphy (7)